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Paradigm Shift: Doctor to Dad

Originally published in 2014 after the birth of Dr. Bernstein’s son

Well, my wife and I (and our little man Oliver) have survived 3 months and are well into a pretty decent groove.  NO… he doesn’t sleep all night, but we have seen improvements on a weekly basis.  I thought I would write a short blog about the paradigm shift I got to experience, as an OBGYN doctor, during my wife’s labor, delivery, and postpartum course. 

My wife had a scheduled induction of labor.  Since many of my patients have inductions with successful outcomes I was not too nervous about the process.  The night of the induction we went on a little date to North Hills as a “Last Supper” of sorts before our world was about to be rocked.  I got a call from the charge nurse on L&D who said there were no rooms available. (See, even the doctor’s wife can get delayed!)  We eagerly waited and finally got called in around 10:00pm.  My wife’s doctor came in to place the Foley balloon, which was done easily.  That’s when things changed!   The contractions started pretty soon after placement.  This can happen for some women and not others.  It took about an hour, a dose or two of IV narcotics, and an Ambien before she was comfortable enough to sleep.   (Lesson learned for me… Foley balloon cervical ripening can hurt!)

In case you were wondering, I slept horribly.  I was post call and really had not slept much in over 36 hours.  Surely I would sleep like a baby right?  However, the anticipation of the event, the other screaming laboring patients, and the oh-so-comfy hospital recliner chair made my sleep spotty. 

Upon awaking the balloon was out, the cervix was 4-5cm, and we were ready to rock.  A quick shower then breakfast, and the Pitocin was going!  Everything seemed pretty normal and around noon her doctor ruptured the bag of water.   Within 10 minutes the contraction strength increased exponentially and my wife requested an epidural.  As many of you may know, the anesthesiologist does not come immediately.  It takes 30-60 minutes for the IV fluids to run in and the doctor to arrive.  I would say, of the entire labor and delivery process, this was the toughest.  (Lesson #2… It is hard to see a loved one SOOOOO uncomfortable.  I felt helpless for the first time in a long time.)  Once the epidural was in, there was almost immediate relief.  My wife actually slept afterwards for a couple of and hours and when she awoke she was 10cm.  (In case you were wondering, I was marathoning “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix… solid show.)

Many patients ask me if I delivered my son.   The answer is no.  I was told very early on in the process that I was to only focus “north of the equator.”  I was to be a husband and father, not a doctor.  Thus, I held a leg, cheered my wife on during the pushing, and looked her straight in the eyes.  Before I knew it, 6#8oz of life entered our world.  I cut the cord like any other dad would, and have to admit… it was sweeter than any other cord cut I have experienced to date. 

We were blessed with a pretty uneventful postpartum stay for two nights.  However, I learned a few things during those two days.

  1. The soreness, particularly the first couple of days (and really weeks) after delivery, is intense.  I have an entirely new appreciation for it.
  2. You should consider bringing your own pillows and bath towels from home.  Trust me!
  3. For the family member who is going to sleep on the pull-out coach… get ready for minimal sleep.  The only thing I can equate it to is trying to sleep on an overnight flight while sitting in coach… and having a baby a row ahead of you crying all night.  It is just not comfortable. 
  4. Take advantage of the nursery.  As much as any other couple, we wanted our son to room-in with us so that we could optimize the breast-feeding environment.  However, a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep here and there are priceless!!
  5. Minimize visitors!  It is nice to have family and friends visit, but again… you will be exhausted and will need the little naps that the day affords you.  Let friends and family come to your home once your return.  There, they can help you with the baby or chores or meals.

Lastly, as a new dad, I appreciate more than ever how much new moms are super humans.  The amount of emotional and physical draining that they endure, and then keep on going is nothing short of amazing.  I feel grateful and blessed.

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